NewsAfricaEU and Tunisia sign "strategic partnership" on immigration

    EU and Tunisia sign “strategic partnership” on immigration

    The European Union and Tunisia finalized on Sunday a “strategic partnership” providing for the fight against human traffickers and the strengthening of borders, in the context of a surge in the number of makeshift boats leaving the South African country. North to Europe.

    4 mins

    The difficult negotiations finally bore fruit: the European Union and Tunisia concluded, on Sunday July 16 in Tunis, a “strategic partnership” centered on the fight against irregular immigration but also intended to support the North African country in the face of to serious economic hardship.

    European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen welcomed an agreement that will “invest in shared prosperity”, referring to “five pillars”, including the very important migration issue.

    Tunisia is the main point of departure, along with Libya, for thousands of migrants crossing the central Mediterranean towards Europe.

    The Italian heads of government Giorgia Meloni and Dutch Mark Rutte accompanied the European leader after a first visit a month ago by the trio, during which they had proposed this partnership.

    “New Stage”

    The five pillars are “macroeconomic stability, trade and investment, green energy transition, bringing people together, migration and mobility,” the Commission said in a statement.

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    The memorandum of understanding marks “an important new step in dealing with the migration crisis in an integrated manner”, welcomed Giorgia Meloni, who invited Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed to participate next Sunday (July 23) in Rome in a summit on migrations.

    In particular, the extension of the Erasmus exchange program to Tunisia and aid of 65 million euros for 80 schools are planned.

    On the energy side, European leaders recalled that Tunisia is concerned by submarine fiber optic cable and electric cable projects to connect the two shores of the Mediterranean.

    In this regard, the EU wants to support the development of renewable energies in the Maghreb country, which has “enormous potential”, stressed Ursula von der Leyen.

    According to Giorgia Meloni, the partnership between Tunisia and the European Union (EU) “can be considered as a model for the establishment of new relations with North Africa”.

    As for immigration, Mark Rutte felt that the agreement will “better control irregular immigration”.

    President Saïed raised this issue in front of his counterparts, calling for “a collective agreement on inhuman immigration and on (forced) displacement operations by criminal networks”.

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    Increasingly openly xenophobic discourse

    “The Tunisians gave these immigrants everything that could be offered with unlimited generosity”, pleaded Kaïs Saïed, strongly criticized for the way in which hundreds of migrants were arrested in Tunisia, then “deported”, according to NGOs, to inhospitable areas on the borders with Algeria and Libya.

    Telephone testimonies to AFP and videos sent to NGOs in Tunisia showed women and children abandoned in the middle of the desert without water, food or shelter.

    Libyan border guards told AFP on Sunday that they had rescued at least 70 migrants who were wandering in unbearable temperatures and without any help in a border area between the two countries.

    An increasingly openly xenophobic discourse has spread in Tunisia since its president, who assumed full powers in July 2021, denounced illegal immigration in February, referring to “hordes of sub-Saharan migrants” who had come, according to him, “to change the demographic composition” of the country.

    Concretely, the agreement between Brussels and Tunis provides aid of 105 million euros to fight against irregular immigration.

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    The EU has also promised direct budgetary aid of 150 million euros in 2023 while Tunisia, strangled by a debt of 80% of its GDP, is short of liquidities, which causes regular shortages for products of basic necessities purchased directly by the State.

    During its first visit, the European troika had mentioned “macro-financial assistance of 900 million euros”, in the form of a loan which would have been provided to Tunisia over the next few years.

    Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday that Brussels remained “ready to provide this assistance as soon as the conditions are met”.

    But this “assistance” is conditional on an agreement between Tunisia and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a new loan of 2 billion dollars, a file that has been deadlocked for months.

    President Saïed rejects two essential conditions for an agreement with the IMF: the lifting of subsidies on basic products and the restructuring of state enterprises in difficulty.

    We must “find new means of cooperation outside the international monetary framework”, he said on Sunday.

    With AFP

    Source: France 24

    This post is posted by Awutar staff members. Awutar is a global multimedia website. Our Email: [email protected]


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